The nature of the cataclysmic variable PT Per
journal contributionposted on 14.06.2016, 12:20 by Michael G. Watson, A. Bruce, C. MacLeod, J. P. Osborne, A. D. Schwope
We present a study of the cataclysmic variable star PT Per based on archival XMM-Newton X-ray data and new optical spectroscopy from the WHT with ISIS. The X-ray data show deep minima which recur at a period of 82 minutes and a hard, unabsorbed X-ray spectrum. The optical spectra of PT Per show a relatively featureless blue continuum. From an analysis of the X-ray and optical data we conclude that PT Per is likely to be a magnetic cataclysmic variable of the polar class in which the minima correspond to those phase intervals when the accretion column rotates out of the field of view of the observer. We suggest that the optical spectrum, obtained around 4 years after the X-ray coverage, is dominated by the white dwarf in the system, implying that PT Per was in a low accretion state at the time of the observations. An analysis of the likely system parameters for PT Per suggests a distance of ≈90 pc and a very low-mass secondary, consistent with the idea that PT Per is a “period-bounce” binary. Matching the observed absorption features in the optical spectrum with the expected Zeeman components constrains the white dwarf polar field to be Bp ≈ 25 − 27 MGauss.